One of the more brilliant minds of this or any century, Stephen Hawking, is now adding his name to the list of those concerned that Donald J. Trump, actually could be elected President of the United States. Ths is the same uber-genius (Hawking, not Trump) who wrote his thesis on “Properties of Expanding Universes,” while winning nearly every award in his fields of study. He’s a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who has now turned his intellect to the task of analyzing the Trump candidacy, saying Donald Trump “…is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines demagogue as “A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.”
Professor Hawking has spoken. We all need to listen.
Others, mostly on the liberal side, are voicing the same fear, wondering out loud if this won’t make the United States look even more stupid than we appeard after electing (well, sort of electing) George W. Bush, not once, but twice. Which it will. We will be the nation which not only has the biggest prison population in the world as it continues treating addiction as a criminal rather than a medical problem, while economically punishing kids for going to college and rejecting universal healthcare and refusing to adequately care for its elderly – we will also be the country that elected a reality show host with no clearly defined policies. Well, there are policies, but they change from one minute to the next. Many of them have no basis in reality whatsoever, just a demagogic appeal to the very worst of human nature as Trump takes millions of Americans down into the muck and mire of his ongoing ignorance and prejudice-based authoritarian attack against anyone who would dare issue a fact-based argument.
If Trump is elected, the civilized world will think we’re an uninformed or perhaps just an ignorant bunch of boobs. Which begs the question of how low is our lowest common denominator? And how was this allowed to happen?
My personal view is that we are faced by a combination of the continued dumbing down of America joined at the hip with a mass media gone largely mad, putting profits so far ahead of journalism that for millions of Americans the truth has been lost somewhere between Kenya and thousands of imaginary Mexican rapists streaming across the border into Arizona.
The fact that millions of young people are buying neither Trump’s demagogury nor Hillary Clinton’s “business as usual” pitch, but are instead supporting Bernie Sanders, gives me hope that the push toward stupidity was stopped or at least slowed, somewhere between the X and Y generations.
The fear of Trump is not limited to genius cosmologists and liberals. He’s doing a pretty good job of scaring the hell out of maistream Republicans as well. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has now hesitantly accepted Trump as his candidate, with obvious reservations. There was no formal endorsement from Ryan, just the announcment that he will be voting for Trump. As the leader of his party, he really has no choice. Other prominent Republicans are not backing Trump, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Republican strategist and stalwart, Mary Matlin, has left the party for a Libertarian ticket. Former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, says he won’t vote for Trump. The list goes on.
How did we get here, and will thinking individuals be left thanking the founders when the electoral college proves to be our last line of defense against demagoguery?